Council defeats motion for Board of Police Commissioners to consider funding for community alcohol strategy

Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky. (Herald file photo)

For now, Prince Albert’s Board of Police Commissioners will not be considering funding for a community non-profit dedicated to responsible alcohol use.

Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky—who volunteers for the Prince Albert and Area Community Alcohol Strategy—motioned that the board consider some “reasonable funding” for the organization’s educational initiatives at Monday’s meeting.

The motion was defeated on a 7-2 margin.

Those who opposed argued that alcoholism stems from a broader issue that needs to be addressed by all levels of government.

“Instead of downloading all of these responsibilities on the city, we need to look at other levels of government that have access to a heck of a lot more money than we do,” said Ward. 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick.

“What is the root cause of these social problems in our community? Is it a lack of housing? Is it a lack of education, jobs?” he questioned.

With the provincial election coming up, Ogrodnick encouraged Prince Albert residents to start voicing the need for more funding to address social issues that may lead to addictions.

Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards, who sits on the Board of Police Commissioners, had a similar view. He added that the board is scraping its pockets as it is.

“Where can we find any money?” asked Edwards, adding that the board even struggled to fund bathroom renovations.

Nowoselsky, on the other hand, said the non-profit has already reached out to various government leaders, and contains representation from multiple community sectors, including education, health and police.

Nowoselsky and steering committee spokesperson Robert Bratvold sent a letter to the health minister and the premier, he said. The government, however, hasn’t been “100 per cent supportive,” he said.

“Don’t want to get into the gutter here, but I’m saying we can find money to give a police car free to the SPCA and we can’t find a few dollars for this agency? It’s wrong,” argued Nowoselsky.

The Board of Police Commissioners donated a low-mileage police car to the SPCA after it took over animal control services in 2018.

The alcohol strategy’s steering committee hopes to change the community’s relationship with alcohol. According to its website, the committee works to “motivate, mobilize and encourage action” for family-friendly and alcohol free events, as well as responsible drinking habits whenever alcohol is served.

“How does this non-profit agency survive? Every year (they’re) asking SGI or the Northern Lights Development Corporation, or some agency, to make a donation,” said Nowoselsky.

“It’s just constantly pleading for a few dollars to operate.”

Mayor Greg Dionne, like the rest of council, said he appreciates the organization’s efforts to build a healthier community.

He said he couldn’t support the motion, though, because the request should come from the chair of the agency asking for funding.

with files from Jason Kerr